Logged-out Google personalized search results remain part of the experience, a new report from a rival browser finds, raising user privacy questions…
It’s well-known Google personalizes its search results to better cater to users. The search giant collects all sorts of information from users who are logged into its various services, including Chrome, Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and more.
Now, it appears the company still displays personalized search results, even when users aren’t logged into any of its services.
Logged-Out Personalized Google Search Results Still Surface for User Queries, New Study Finds
The study, conducted by rival search engine, DuckDuckGo, involved users searching for the same key phrases at the same time. All participants were located in the United States as a control, given each country operate their own search indexes.
The result, most participants experienced the same unique results, even if they weren’t logged into a Google account.
In the experiment, 76 people searched the same keyword at the same time, which returned 62 different listings. Also, Google displayed some links on the first page which did not surface for others. Plus, the results and news and video varied substantially.
The study also concluded:
“Private browsing mode and being logged out of Google offered very little filter bubble protection. These tactics simply do not provide the anonymity most people expect. In fact, it’s simply not possible to use Google search and avoid its filter bubble.”
Here’s the crux of the problem. If several people search for the same query at the same time in the same country, within the incognito mode and not logged in, the search engine should return the same results. It didn’t. Contrarily, Google returned listings which are more personalized.
Read the full study here.